The Really Ancient
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Ancient Peoples

Archaic Foods

Archiac Specialization & Tools

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The Archaic Peoples



The period of 8,000 - 200 BC is identified as the Archaic Period. The people of this time lived during a new weather pattern, manufactured different tools, learned to cultivate plants, and lead a very different life than their immediate predecessors, the Clovis and Folsom. It has been suggested, after studying their spear points and other factors, that the Archaic people were not the descendents of the Clovis and Folsom, but were actually a western group of people who moved east into New Mexico from California, Nevada and Arizona after the end of the Ice Age.

This is an example of a hypothesis presented by a scientist, in this case C. Irwin-Williams. He noticed that while the Paleo-Indians of the earlier period had used soft multi-colored spear heads and some black obsidian spear heads (and most were found broken), the Archaic people used almost only black spear heads made of obsidian and the much harder black basalt rock. The Archaic spearheads are more often found whole, due to the sturdiness of their thicker, stronger stone type and shape. He wrote in 1968 " the tool assemblage of these earliest Archaic cultures differs so greatly in technology, typology, and functional classes from those of the preceding Paleo-Indian phases, that there is evidently no generic connection between them. It is believed that these earliest phases of Archaic development represent the first penetration of western-based groups, which entered the Southwest upon the with drawl of the Paleo-Indian bi game hunters."

Is it possible the early New Mexico Southwest Archaic people might have been related to California tribal ancestors ? This hypothesis suggests there may have been such a relationship. Migrations as well as trade has linked the Southwest for thousands of years.

By 6,000 BC, the large game animals of the late Ice Age were long gone. With the warming that was following, wild plants became a more common part of the entire Southwest ecosystem, providing a new food and implement source for people living all over the region. Smaller animals were plentiful - deer, antelope, big horn sheep, coyotes, and even smaller rabbits.

Until 2,000 BC, most settlement was in the northern Mexican and southern Arizona and New Mexico areas. This was probably due to this area having the warmest temperatures and more rainfall. After 2,000 BC, settlements in the central and northern areas began to appear more frequently as the warming trend spread north.

The tribal groups of the Archaic do not appear to have needed to travel as widely as the big game hunters - they were able to find sufficient food sources right in their own area year round but gathering and hunting at different elevations different times of the year. This enabled them to live year round in the same region and they used caves in canyon walls and huts beside small lakes for housing sites at different times of the year. These locations provided access to the foods they needed with out requiring distant wanderings.

Specialization and Tools

Wild Foods Enjoyed by the Archaic Peoples

Agriculture Emerges